Tales of Middle-earth, Magic: The Gathering’s crossover with the world of Lord of the Rings, will feature a unique card for each of the nine Ringwraiths - and you’ll be able to have all nine in your deck at once.
One of JRR Tolkien’s most enduring creations, the Nazgûl - or Ringwraiths - are the nine men corrupted by the Rings of Power forged by Sauron. They are encountered several times during the Lord of the Rings trilogy as they hunt for the Ring-bearer, including at Weathertop where they stab Frodo Baggins before being chased off by Aragorn.
Despite the Ringwraiths being some of Middle-earth’s most iconic villains, only the Nazgûl’s leader, the Witch-king of Angmar, is named in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. (His right-hand man is later named as Khamûl in the Unfinished Tales collection, published after Tolkien’s death, but the others remain nameless.)
While few details exist on the differences between each Nazgûl, Tales of Middle-earth will grant each Ringwraith their own unique Magic: The Gathering card.
The cards’ text, abilities, power and toughness will be identical, as well as all having the title Nazgûl. While Magic: The Gathering’s standard deck construction rules typically limit a deck to four copies of any one card with the same name, the Nazgûl cards feature a written exception in their rules text allowing all nine to be included in the same deck.
Each Nazgûl has Deathtouch - causing any damage dealt to destroy a creature. In addition, whenever a Nazgûl enters the battlefield, they will trigger Tales of Middle-earth’s new The Ring Tempts You mechanic, as well as adding a +1/+1 counter to any Wraith creatures (which includes the Nazgûl) when a player is tempted by the Ring.
The cards will differ in their artwork, which portrays the Nazgûl as they are described in Tolkien’s books - with red eyes, a detail absent from the later films. All of the Nazgûl are seen mounted on their horses.
As well as appearing as one of the Nazgûl cards, the Witch-king of Angmar features on a separate legendary creature card, mounted on his flying Fell Beast. (If you’re wondering, the Witch-king’s Nazgûl card is the second from the left on the top row, according to senior art director Ovidio Cartagena.)
The Witch-king of Angmar card gains Flying as a keyword and increases the Ringwraith leader’s power to five and toughness to three, compared to the 1/2 values of a standard Nazgûl. The Witch-king can also be granted Indestructible until the end of the turn by discarding a card and tapping the creature.
Whenever the controlling player is dealt combat damage, it forces each opponent to sacrifice a creature that dealt combat damage that turn, before the Ring tempts the player.
The card’s distinct title also means that you could feasibly build a deck with nine Nazgûl and four copies of Witch-king of Angmar, if you’re keen on living out your fantasies as the Dark Lord Sauron.
Tales of Middle-earth will see a pre-release from June 16th to 22nd, ahead of its MTG Arena launch on June 20th and wide release from June 23rd.